Covid19/Nuclear –  ICAN infographic demonstrating how this year’s nuclear weapons budget could be better applied to Covid 19 supplies and personnel

This Week’s Featured Interviews

  • Covid19/Nuclear Connection – Alicia Sanders-Zakre is the Policy and Research Coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). She directs and coordinates research on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and general nuclear weapons policy.  Sanders-Zakre did the research that led to creation of the infographic above, which has electrified even mainstream media outlets.  She joined us from her home in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Alice Slater serves on the Board of Directors of World BEYOND War and is the UN NGO Representative of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She is on the Board of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, the Global Council of Abolition 2000, and the Advisory Board of Nuclear Ban-US, supporting the mission of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in realizing the successful UN negotiations for a Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Susi Snyder is project lead for the PAX No Nukes Project and coordinates the Don’t Bank on the Bomb research and campaign. She’s an expert on nuclear weapons, with over two decades of experience working at the intersect between nuclear weapons and human rights.

Related ICAN Links:

Numnutz of the Week (for Outstanding Nuclear Boneheadedness):

While our backs are turned because we’re focusing so much on Covid19, the International Atomic Energy Agency – the nuclear industry’s PR mouthpiece – tries to get its ducks in a row to release Fukushima’s stored radioactive water into “the sea” – aka, the Pacific Ocean. 


Libbe HaLevy

00:00:01

COVID 19 and nuclear radio activity. The two invisible threats to our health safety and future keeps spreading with dire consequences that are still too much of a moving target to be able to calculate accurately. But when an international expert on the abolition of nuclear weapons follows the money when it comes to the obscene nuclear weapons budget, and its relation to COVID-19 and she tells you the,

Alicia Sanders

00:00:31

That we’ve wasted so much money on nuclear weapons. And now there are shortages in almost every country of ventilators and beds and doctors and nurses. So it’s not a coincidence that you have both of these things happening at the same time. They’re intricately related. Well,

Libbe HaLevy

00:00:48

When you hear about that, COVID nuclear connection from the woman who researched it for the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. And you’ve seen the infographic that resulted you begin to understand the magnitude of what we waste on these weapons of war and death and gain yet another insight into that awful dangerous seat that we all share

Announcer

00:01:13

To clear hot seat. What are those people thinking, Claire? Hotsy what have those boys been breaking their hot? See Ms. Sinking our time to act is shrinking, but nuclear Hotsy it’s the bomb.

Libbe HaLevy

00:01:45

Welcome to nuclear hot seat, the weekly international news magazine, keeping you up to date on all things nuclear from a different perspective. My name is Leiby Halevi. I am the producer and host as well as a survivor of the nuclear accident at three mile island from just one mile away. So I know what can happen when those nuclear so-called experts get it wrong. This week, we continue to explore the COVID 19 nuclear connection with Alicia Sanders, Zachary. She is the policy and research coordinator at the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons and the woman who came up with the dollar equivalency between nuclear weapons, budgets, and the resources necessary to fight the novel Corona virus pandemic. It’s a piece of information that has been gaining international traction and blowing minds. We will also hear briefly from the front lines of the fight against nuclear weapons with Alice Slater of the nuclear age peace foundation and Susie Snyder of don’t bank on the bomb.

Libbe HaLevy

00:02:52

We’ll also have nuclear news from around the world numnuts of the week for outstanding nuclear bone headedness, and more honest nuclear information than the nuclear industry wants you paying attention to as they continue their COVID-19 linked manipulations. All of it coming up in just a few moments today is Tuesday, April 7th, 2020. And here is this week’s nuclear news from a different perspective. The COVID 19 nuclear update begins with a focus on Limerick nuclear located only 35 miles or 56 kilometers from Philadelphia. This is based on a series of articles by Carl Hesler Jr. For the reporter online contractors working during a refueling project at the Limerick generating station are quote unquote, terrified that they are working in a breeding ground for COVID-19 and express concerns about the company’s Exelon’s safety practices during the pandemic contractors inside the facility. Speaking as whistleblowers under anonymity said that up to 1400 contractors may have been summoned to work on the project and that the supplemental workers began showing up at the plants days before a unit one refueling outage began on March 27.

Libbe HaLevy

00:04:14

The workers interviewed claimed that social distancing measures of standing at least six feet apart were not being respected. Quote, there were no less than 100 people in the training room being processed. People literally sitting on top of each other, no one enforcing social distancing said one. There were computer labs for people to take tests. They need to get into the plant people sitting at every computer elbow to elbow and during shift changes, he said, people from both shifts congregated in the break room, standing room only just packed in there to date. There have been at least three confirmed and admitted cases of COVID-19 among workers at the plant. This before the nuclear regulatory commission announced that they were no longer going to reveal the numbers of ill or testing positive people in any nuclear facility for the reports from inside contractors claimed that the plant was running out of hand sanitizer and things were not being wiped down.

Libbe HaLevy

00:05:13

Additionally, the nuclear regulatory commission has been weakening worker fatigue rules at nuclear power plants at allowing workers to work 12 hour shifts. And in some cases, even 16 hour shifts per days with an 86 hour workweek poised to be approved. It is important for you to realize that the highest spike of radiation release that the public is exposed to comes during the refueling process in a 24 to 36 hour period. On average, when the rods are out of the nuclear reactor core, but not yet in the spent fuel pool, the amount of radiation the public is exposed to is hidden by the NRC and the industry by averaging the radiation exposure numbers across a year, and not showing that the intense exposure comes in a 24 to 36 hour period. The NRC is extension of work hours compares badly to that, which is enforced for truck drivers in the United States who are limited to 10 hour driving shifts after which they must rest for at least eight hours before resuming driving to prevent sleep deprived, overstress drivers causing wrecks on the highway that could kill many people.

Libbe HaLevy

00:06:30

And depending on what they are carrying cause a hazardous release into the environment, compare that to what could be released if there were a nuclear accident. And don’t say it couldn’t happen because it already has at Chernobyl and three mile island where sleep deprivation was a factor in the creation of those two nuclear disasters. And what is playing out at Limerick is also on the agenda for 53 other nuclear reactors in this country that are facing refueling in the next six months. The safest course of action is to shut down all nuclear reactors now and leave only skeleton crews onsite to do necessary maintenance, to hear definitive information as to why it is impossible to maintain COVID safety at any nuclear reactor facility. Listen to last week’s nuclear hot seat, number 4, 5 8, an interview with irony and Maggie Gunderson of Fairwinds energy education, the nuclear powered USS Theodore Roosevelt from which Navy captain Brett Crozier sent an urgent letter to the U S Navy asking officials to evacuate an isolate.

Libbe HaLevy

00:07:44

The crew is cases of Corona virus infection increased on the vessel, which led to him being removed from the ship and taken off command by acting secretary of the Navy Thomas Motley, who was himself then flamed by the push back and forced out of his position in the face of Kroger’s bravery. And also the fact that he has tested COVID positive. Now comes word that the Navy cannot take all the sailors off of the vessel and leave it empty because it’s loaded with weapons and a nuclear reactor. The Navy would have to keep about 1000 sailors onboard to keep the vessels critical functions operational. And before he turned tail and left, Motley said, you can’t leave a nuclear reactor they’re running without anybody on the ship. Yeah, I think in Japan, the shortage of protective gear caused by the Corona virus pandemic has hit the workers at the melted down Fukushima nuclear power plant, where they’ve needed personal protection equipment daily for years to guard against radiation.

Libbe HaLevy

00:08:50

The 4,000 workers at the plant cannot always practice social distancing as they must come to each other to carry out the cleanup work, the Olympic torch relay. Remember that was downgraded from a three-day run through the radioactive Fukushima prefecture to a car, carrying a lantern through Fukushima prefecture for three days to it being on display until the end of April in Fukushima prefecture at the J village national training center to now as of April 2nd, no public display of the Olympic flame in Fukushima prefecture because of escalating concerns about the spread of Corona virus in Japan, they take virus seriously, but not that other longer lasting invisible threat to life. The ongoing threat of radioactivity from the remains of the triple meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors. Well, we’ve got another year to work on them to see if we can get them to cancel it this time for the reason of radioactivity and now new

Libbe HaLevy

01:10:05

On April 2nd, 2020, the nuclear industry PR mouthpiece, the international atomic energy agency, or IAEA published a review of the management of treated water, meaning radioactive water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in it. The IAEA says that the two options under consideration for disposing of this water discharge into the Pacific ocean or via vapor release, that both of these methods are technically feasible. Well, that’s great. You can technically do it, but should you, how about the human aspect of this problem? Talk to the fishermen. They don’t want it. I mean, really is the IAEA going out of its way to buy and cook and serve to its members fish that were caught around Fukushima Daiichi. I sincerely doubt it as for that water. All of it contains radioactive tritium that cannot be removed from the water. There are as of March 12, 979 tanks on site at Fukushima Daiichi with one point 19 million cubic meters of treated water in it treated, but still radioactive.

Libbe HaLevy

01:11:29

And by the summer of 2020, all of the tanks are expected to be full. So what to do with it, I suggest bottling it and shipping it to members of the IAEA to drink during their many excursions to discuss nuclear batters, put it in their bathtubs, put it in their swimming pools. They’re so cavalier about exposing people and ocean wildlife and the entire ecosystem to radioactive tritium. Why don’t they do their fair share and take it on and really demonstrate to us how ultimately quote unquote harmless it is because it isn’t, and that’s why they are not doing that. And what a voice get off on the rest of us and for your defense of this idea, international atomic energy agency, you are this week’s

Libbe HaLevy

01:12:26

In the UK while the country is locked down to protect the public from COVID-19 the government’s nuclear projects continue. And there’s no lockdown for projects at Trident, sell a field or Hinckley. See in Russia for nuclear workers at a single site have tested positive for the Corona virus. And as a result, the staff has been put into isolation in France. Nuclear fuel reprocessing at LA hog has been stalled though. Francis national operator EDF has refused to comment about the level of absenteeism or the number of confirmed Corona virus infections among its staff in Ukraine. A forest fire at the Chernobyl site has increased radiation to 16 times above what’s considered normal there in China, masses of tiny shrimp, shut down a nuclear reactor twice in a 24 hour, when they gave their lives to block the water filters, ultimately causing six nuclear reactors to shut down shrimp and jellyfish shut down nuclear reactors.

Libbe HaLevy

01:13:31

The rest of us can do it too. And while UK prime minister, Boris Johnson is in intensive care with COVID-19, nobody knows who is in control of that. Country’s nuclear launch codes. We’ll have this week’s featured interview in just a moment, but first it seems still, and for the foreseeable future, that there is only one big story in the news coronavirus COVID-19 and its inexorable seemingly unstoppable progress through the world. The nuclear industry is trying to take advantage of our fears by pushing themselves forward as our energy saviors, when in truth, their sense of opportunism and entitlement fueled by endless propaganda press releases and, and their lapdogs at the nuclear regulatory commission threatens to create an even more dangerous and long lasting set of circumstances than the novel coronavirus while the industry and its mouthpieces flood the world with their PR talking points and they hide any information that just might tell us a larger and more dangerous truth.

Libbe HaLevy

01:14:41

Attention must be paid and nuclear hot seat is the one place you can count on every week to continue to report on this ongoing, evolving truth to keep the show going, especially now I need your help. So please take a moment to help us keep digging up and sharing the information on nuclear implications in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic. You can do your part to help us keep getting the word out by providing a donation of any size. Just go to nuclear, hot seat.com and click on the big red donate button to help us with a donation to send us a monthly $5, which is the same as a cup of coffee. And you can’t actually go out and buy a cup of coffee anymore. So why not send it here? Just click on the big green donate [email protected] Please do what you can and do it now and know that however much you can help.

Libbe HaLevy

01:15:36

I’m deeply grateful that you’re listening and that’s your care. Now here’s this week’s featured interview. Even during this ever evolving pandemic, it is important. If not crucial, to keep our eyes on what’s happening in the nuclear industry around the world and doing what we can to stop it from pushing forward in the way that it has been. It’s certainly a more productive use of our time in isolation than going down the rabbit hole on Facebook. With that in mind, when I got a recent email from the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons known as I can, I felt I had to talk with them about some of their recent work, especially the stunning equivalency between COVID-19 response and nuclear weapons funding. Alicia Sanders. Zachary is the policy and research coordinator at ICANN. She directs and coordinates research on the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and general nuclear weapons policy. I spoke with her from her quarantine in her home in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday, April 6th, 2020, Alicia Sanders, Zachary, thank you so much for joining us here on nuclear hot seat.

Alicia Sanders

01:16:56

It’s my pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Libbe HaLevy

01:16:59

I regularly report on the work of ICANN for nuclear hot seat, but this is the first time I’ve had anyone who has been from the Geneva headquarters on the show. So let’s put some basics in place so that listeners can understand what I can is how it came about and what its goals are.

Alicia Sanders

01:17:18

I can is a global network of more than 500 partner organizations in over a hundred countries, all with a common goal, which is to ban nuclear rapids simply. But the long version is that in 2017, we worked to achieve the first treaty, banning nuclear weapons adopted at the UN. And now we’re working to get that treaty to enter into force. Once it enters into force, it will become legally binding for all of the states, parties, the treaty. So we currently need 14 more countries to join on to the treaty. And we have team of campaigners in all of these different countries, working with their cities, working with their members of parliament, to, to try to get them, to get the federal government, to join on to the treaty. On the other side, we also have a team misses, a lot of the work that I do as the policy and research coordinator, working to stigmatize nuclear weapons and take forward the provisions of the treaty, even in countries that don’t support the treaty to, to engage different members of the community that don’t support nuclear weapons and try to change the perspectives of those who

Libbe HaLevy

01:18:37

I know that recently there were hearings in New York city with the city council about having New York city come out with a very clear statement against nuclear weapons.

Alicia Sanders

01:18:48

Yeah, that’s been a really exciting development and we’ve seen these kinds of resolutions coming up in, in local governments and state governments all around the world, you know, in the United States, for example, we have a specific website dedicated to cities that have called on their fed that have adopted resolutions calling on the federal government to join the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. It’s amazing, even, even though I work on this all the time for me to see the list of cities that have joined, including the nation’s Capitol, for example, Washington DC. And, and there’s been some, some really exciting legislation in New York, also about looking into divesting from nuclear weapons companies, which is another really important symbolic and real measure to show that that companies and governments don’t support nuclear weapons.

Libbe HaLevy

01:19:41

We’re going to talk a little bit about the organization and how it functions and how you are in connection with other programs and other groups I’d like to know about you. How did you become involved with ICANN and were you involved with these issues before the organization?

Alicia Sanders

01:19:58

Yep. So I’ve been working on a nuclear disarmament now for the past several years, since I was, I started volunteering in university for some really excellent nuclear disarmament campaigners. I went to school around Boston and had the privilege of working with the American friends service committee as a student volunteer. And that’s when I really started learning about making their weapons. And I’ll, I’ll never forget the first time that I heard from the hypocrisy, from the survivors of Hiroshima at the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because they’re called to abolish nuclear weapons with such a powerful one and such a morally strong insecure one that I felt even as someone who studied international relations and international security, I hadn’t heard as much about how many nuclear weapons are still in the world today and what countries continue to spend on them. And so it was hearing both about the horrible, terrible legacy of making the weapons and knowing that, that I felt there weren’t enough people and particularly not enough young people kind of taking for this cause that led me to, to want to work on this issue. I decided I need to learn more after graduating, I went to Washington DC and I worked for a couple think tanks doing research and writing about Nick of the Robbins, and then was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to come work with can, I’m still focusing on our policy and research, but really putting those facts and putting that research to work in our activism to abolish nuclear weapons.

Libbe HaLevy

02:21:35

How did I can get started? How was it founded and when was it begun?

Alicia Sanders

02:21:41

So I can’t, it’s about 10 years old and it was started in Australia and since has kind of really become a global organization. You know, the goal has always been to, to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and how kind of that has happened has evolved and grown over time with a lot of the different campaigns that we’ve taken on from negotiating the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, to our campaign, to work with cities. And we worked very closely with our campaigners that pursued divestment, and we have a number of kind of new campaigns that we’re working on. Now,

Libbe HaLevy

02:22:22

How does I can work with an in other countries? You said there were over 500 allied organizations in 100 countries. How is that set up?

Alicia Sanders

02:22:33

I mean, I think one of the most exciting things for me coming to work for such a global organization was seeing how all these different national chapters can work together for a common goal. It’s very interesting to see how within the, you know, this global network, there are regional calls, there are regional strategy and there’s national strategy, and there’s even subnational strategies in some of our larger countries. There’s a lot of kind of sharing of best practices among countries, but also certainly from the international staff team based in Geneva. A lot of our work is listening through our national campaigners about what works best, what Cal campaigning works best in their national contexts, and really working with them to understand the situation and how we can help support their campaigning on the ground.

Libbe HaLevy

02:23:22

What are the qualifications, or is there a certification program or can anybody say, okay, I want to work against nukes and I want to be allied with I can’t. How does somebody get into alignment with the organization?

Alicia Sanders

02:23:35

We have an open call for partner organizations, and those applications are reviewed on a quarterly basis to make sure that organizations believe in our goals and want to work with us on our shared goal, we actually just accepted about a week ago, a new round of partner organizations. It’s always really exciting to see that new groups join the four, including the union of concerned scientists based in the U S I just joined ICANN. So we’re, we’re really looking forward to working with them and, and all the other new partner organizations.

Libbe HaLevy

02:24:10

I’m surprised that the union of concerned scientists took this long to join with you.

Alicia Sanders

02:24:15

A lot of our clients have them.

Libbe HaLevy

02:24:17

And what about your work with two groups that I have covered on the show, which are don’t bank on the bomb and back from the brink?

Alicia Sanders

02:24:25

Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s really excellent to work with both that don’t bank on the bomb and the back from the brink campaign, you know, as the research coordinator with ICANN, part of my role is producing new research, but it’s also amplifying the research that our partners are already doing on the really great research, including of course, that don’t bank on the bond report, which is a really exciting in some ways tangible marker of the stigmatization of nuclear weapons. When you look at the banks and pension funds that have divested from, and how policies have really changed over the years, it’s really exciting to see the work that, that Susie does. We all kind of defer to her as our resident divestment experts. And of course the back from the brink campaign has been doing a lot of really great resolution national resolution work within the United States that we, we also work with, as I mentioned earlier,

Libbe HaLevy

02:25:23

Denise Duffield here in Los Angeles from physicians for social responsibility. It has been very active in that. And we’ve spoken several times about it. Now you did touch upon, I can having a position with the United nations in putting forth and getting past the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Talk to me about what that process was like so that we can understand what it took and what the involvement of the organization was.

Alicia Sanders

02:25:52

Just as a disclaimer, I just joined, I can add this past September, so I wasn’t with, I can during the negotiations, but I was there in my role with the arms control association at the time. And it was truly one of the highlights of my, certainly my career and also my life to be a part of those negotiations and to see them unfolds in real time, it was really an amazing thing to witness given that, you know, sometimes UN meetings can feel a bit stale. You know, it’s a lot of people coming together sometimes in breeding prepared statements from the floor. And I reported on these meetings for arms control today when I was working at the arms control association and I had to really struggle to write kind of new headlines often and think about how to frame this in an exciting way, but the van negotiations really weren’t like that at all every day was these unprecedented challenges of, of how to write a treaty text of how to properly address the suffering posed by nuclear weapons use in testing and in victim assistance and environmental remediation clauses that be interested in, I just produced a video for international women’s day about gender and nuclear weapons.

Alicia Sanders

02:27:07

And we talked about the ground breaking provisions in the treaty to provide gender sensitive assistance for victims and think of their weapons and to recognize the gendered impact of nuclear weapons in the treaty. It was also exciting, you know, on that line to see all of the really strong female leaders to see Elaine white Gomez as the conference president and how gracefully and, and expertly she shepherded the negotiations all throughout. So, you know, I think it was really an inspiring experience to see the treaty come into form and to see all of the expert inputs that made the treaty, what it is

Libbe HaLevy

02:27:46

I wasn’t able to be there on that day, but I was certainly listening and watching online and Heidi Huttner who’s with Stony Brook university and is very active in eco-feminism issues was there that day. And I caught her 15 minutes after passage. So I caught all of the excitement that was in the room for this. Yeah, it was quite thrilling. Now it’s in the ratification process, it passed the United nations, but it has to be ratified by, I believe it’s 50 different nations. Where do we stand with that? And what’s the latest piece of news here.

Alicia Sanders

02:28:21

Currently, the treaty has 81 states that have signed it and 36 that have ratified it though. 14 more states need to ratify for it to reach the 50 threshold. The most recent ratification was on Namibia just a couple of weeks ago. This is another, I think really fascinating process to see from the inside to see how many governments are, are working to ratify it as we speak, you know, there’s, there’s all of these ongoing internal processes within different countries and a lot of enthusiasm and excitement to join this treaty, especially to be one of the first 50 to make it enter into force. So, you know, it’s always really great to hear from my colleagues who are working directly on entering the force about kind of the latest update from this country or that country and, and you know, how close they are to, to getting it the final instrument of ratification deposited. It’s an exciting, it’s a fast moving process and we’re hoping to reach that 50 soon

Libbe HaLevy

02:29:25

Namibia was just a few weeks ago. And I have to say in a time when we’ve not been getting a lot of very good news to cheer, that was a very good piece of information in 2017 in large part because of the work that was done to gain passage of the treaty at the United nations, I can receive the 2017 Nobel peace prize. What difference if any, did that recognition make to the organization and the furtherance of your goals?

Alicia Sanders

02:29:55

You know, again, speaking, just since I, the organization after the peace prize was awarded, but having seen kind of the process unfold and actually having talked to I can colleagues around that time, I’ve heard Beatrice say a lot. It’s, it’s really exciting to see that such a large group of people in such a campaign can share this award and this achievement and that it’s not really, it’s not just one person. It’s not just Beatrice Finn nurse or someone else in the staff team who did this, but it’s this enormous coalition of, of activists who really cared about the school, who were able to create a treaty and make such lasting change. So I think having so many people be able to be a part of this award. And so the treatment was one really exciting thing. I think another is, is, you know, certainly getting more attention to our goals and our objectives. But I think one of the most rewarding things is being able to share it with so many people.

Libbe HaLevy

03:30:55

And has this helped with your international visibility for your campaign? And certainly there was an infusion of money that came, how has that changed or enlarged the ability of the organization to reach out?

Alicia Sanders

03:31:09

It certainly helps, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s no denying that it’s also, you know, a recognition that this work is important, but also that we need to, to continue it. And the thing that can be really exciting about that, I think the Nobel prize committee tries to do is to give the award to people who can really use it and put it to good use. And so to have that recognition to be able to continue the work, I think is really important.

Libbe HaLevy

03:31:39

It certainly would have helped if it had turned up on the cover of time or Newsweek magazine, but unfortunately it didn’t. However, there’s still that possibility in the future. You’re not limited to just one Nobel peace prize. Now, as I’ve been reporting a nuclear hot seat for several weeks, COVID-19 the novel coronavirus is playing out in some dangerous ways in the nuclear industry. I can certainly speak to those here in the United States. And these are problems with safety regulation changes, refueling of reactors and the safety of onsite workers. What, if any differences has I can discern in the way COVID 19 has influenced the nuclear weapons industry and the countries that have the weapons?

Alicia Sanders

03:32:24

Well, I think what we’ve been kind of concerned to see is that there is even when it becomes so abundantly clear that nuclear weapons do not provide security or safety for Americans from the threats that we’re facing today, defense industry continues to rely on these weapons. You know, we saw just a few days ago, there was a tweet from the U S defense department saying that we continue to rely on our nuclear weapons and to modernize our nuclear weapons, to provide safety and security for the American people. And we always hear this, and we always say that it’s clear that these nuclear weapons are not protecting us from anything. And they’re just draining resources and draining money that could be spent helping American space, the real threats and helping the, you know, the world’s face, the real threats that we face from pandemics, from climate change, you name it, and it just becomes more clear. Now, if it wasn’t before that nuclear weapons don’t serve to provide anyone security,

Libbe HaLevy

03:33:30

There were three dramatic infographics that I can create it to show what the nuclear weapons budget of the United States, the European union and the United Kingdom, what those weapons budgets could buy if applied instead to necessary medical supplies for battling. COVID-19 now speaking for my country, the United States, I thought it was a brilliant illustration of how my government would rather invest in death than in life. How did those graphic representations come about and what kind of response have you gotten to them?

Alicia Sanders

03:34:07

So this was kind of just as we were all getting locked down and thinking about the new reality under this pandemic and reading about the short, the real shortages in ventilators in hospital beds, in the exhaustion of our brave medical professionals, we started thinking about what could a year’s worth of nuclear weapons spending by, in terms of real protection, from the threats that we face and real supplies, urgently needed supplies under this pandemic. And so we started looking at the countries that have well-documented expenses for nuclear weapons. We’d love to also do this for some of the other countries where nuclear expenditures aren’t as transparent, but we don’t have those figures. So we started with the U S the UK and France using documented 2019 spending on nuclear weapons and reported costs of ventilators, ICU beds, and the salaries of nurses and doctors in each country to see just how much one year of nuclear weapons spending could buy in terms of meeting gaps in needed supplies.

Alicia Sanders

03:35:21

And I started doing this research. I started with the us and I was just trying to do the calculations and see starting out by, I read an article saying that, you know, there was a gap in a certain number of ventilators or beds. And so I beat that gap. And then I still had like half of the money left over and I was messaging my colleagues. And I was like, how I can’t even spend all this money if I wanted to. And so I was just doubling the numbers of supplies that I have initially set out thinking that surely we can’t buy this many ventilators. We can’t buy these many ICU beds that tens of thousands of dollars each. And it was, it was really astonishing, even as I say, even as someone who works on this every day to see just how much money we’re throwing away, I think sometimes it’s $35.1 billion. It’s hard to really imagine how much money that is until you have to break it down into how many $35,000 ventilators or beds are you going to buy. And then you really see just how much money it is and just what a waste it is. Okay.

Libbe HaLevy

03:36:28

I appreciated getting that because it really demonstrated the human costs of nuclear weapons, even when they’re not detonated, because there’s the manufacturer, there’s the storage. And there are other stories we could go into about how the United States for one is ramping up its weapons production, even though we don’t need it. What I want to get to is what sparked this outreach to an interview with I cam. And that is the email that you sent out that did have those infographics, but it seemed to frame certain things as being, if not helpful, at least what we can do to not only keep our spirits up, but to be useful and productive. And anti-nuclear in this period of time when we’re all suddenly not in the middle of our usual diversions via work, be it what we do for play, be it just being able to do what we want to without being paranoid about what might be floating in the air. What were some of those points that were brought up by ICANN?

Alicia Sanders

03:37:34

Sure. I mean, this is something we’ve been thinking about a lot is how do we take forward our work in this new normal? Because, you know, I think as these graphics and this research makes clear, it’s ever more important to be fighting against nuclear weapons in this time. And w we also published an op-ed by several doctors, members of the ICANN community who are doctors who were saying why they fight for nuclear disarmament and why it’s such an important issue even now in the midst of a pandemic. So we want to send out some tips and help our members continue their work and continue this fight and activism, even in these challenging times, you know, we’ve thought about a lot about how to, first of all, turn some of our work online. So for example, as we mentioned in this letter, usually we celebrate ratifications and new signatories in person.

Alicia Sanders

03:38:35

And, you know, there’s an opportunity for a picture for the signer to be able to kind of see the Nobel peace prize and kind of celebrate with a member of the ICANN team. But given these unusual circumstances, that celebration was moved to a zoom call. You know, we last fall about U S university involvement in nuclear weapons. And I was hoping to speak to some universities in person this spring, since we’ve kind of moved some of those events online. So I’ll be speaking via teleconference to a class that has classes online. So there are a lot of these opportunities to move events online, but we’re continuing to listen and learn from other activists and hear about how folks are adapting to this new situation and continuing their work in this new setting.

Libbe HaLevy

03:39:28

We’re still in early days with the COVID pandemic, and it has overwhelmed our attention, our thinking, our emotions. How do you propose that we keep people’s attention on the nuclear agenda in your case weapons, in my case, the entire range of issues, but how do we keep our focus on that? Long-term invisible threat to our life and our health and our safety when we’re facing a much more short-term and visible, invisible threat to our life and our health and our safety.

Alicia Sanders

04:40:02

I think it’s not so much an either or, and I think, you know, we’ve also been very careful in telling our campaigners, especially of course, campaigners who are members of frontline communities like doctors and nurses, grocery store workers, and all those folks up to keep going out and exposing themselves to risks, to take it easy on themselves, and to understand that this is a new situation and we’re all adapting. So I think starting off with that and saying that as much as we are looking for new ways to, to campaign in these times, and to be creative and continue our work, it’s also important to acknowledge that it’s stressful and, and everyone’s dealing with it with a new situation. But I think we also have to recognize that these issues are so intertwined and so related. And we just had a really inspiring conference in Paris in February, bringing together activists and artists and scientists to talk about how to make a change and how different movements make changes and what we have in common.

Alicia Sanders

04:41:10

So I think in this really challenging time, we can recognize that the fact that we’ve wasted so much money on nuclear weapons, and now there are shortages in almost every country of ventilators and beds. And there aren’t enough, there’s a shortage in the national health service in the U S in the, in the UK, sorry of doctors and nurses. So it’s not a coincidence that you have both of these things happening at the same time. It’s, they’re intricately related. So in order to, to be better prepared to fight a pandemic in the future, you know, we need to seriously reconsider national security priorities in the, the minority of countries that have chosen nuclear weapons.

Libbe HaLevy

04:41:55

Just trying to say, is there, this is off interview right now. Is there anything you can think of that you would like to, or need to get to that we haven’t covered?

Alicia Sanders

04:42:06

I don’t think so. I mean, I think, you know, is there you’re in, in, based in California? Sorry. If there is, you know, if you’d like to call on kind of your area to, to support a resolution on the ban treaty or something like that. So

Libbe HaLevy

04:42:27

I think Los Angeles already has, oh, I think so. Okay. So, but I’ve, I’m in a little townish area of Los Angeles called and I, we don’t have a city council here, but, you know, if I ever get to a chamber of commerce meeting again, but I know that there are lots of little towns in California because we’re so aware because of Santa Ana and Diablo canyon right now, there is absolute PA I don’t know if you’re aware of what’s happening that 54 nuclear reactors in the United States need to be refueled in the next six months, which requires bringing in between 1000 and 1500 workers. And two weeks ago, I had a report on how many workers were reported to already be ill or have tested positive at nuclear reactors. And three days later, the NRC said, we’re no longer reporting those numbers. And apparently workers on site are panicking. So, but anyway, that’s, that’s like a whole other thing. Let me just see what I have here. I took a couple of notes, notes. I’ll want to have the link to the, the doctors op ed that they posted and it’s, and the people you, you send out, it’s a newsletter or an email that people can sign up for. Just so I can do this in the Roundup.

Alicia Sanders

04:43:48

Yeah. I think the general newsletter, I think it’s just, if you go to our website, I should probably check it now, but I think there’s just a way to like, sign up for updates. I also do like a policy research newsletter. Yeah. If you just like go to the general website and click I’m in, on the front page

Libbe HaLevy

04:44:06

And then I can, or I can w

Alicia Sanders

04:44:09

I can w that org, I guess I can let’s take in or something. I don’t know the full story there.

Libbe HaLevy

04:44:15

Yeah. That one would have gone real early. Okay. So let me, let me just leave a little break. So I’ve got a visual on this and we’ll close this out.

Alicia Sanders

04:44:27

Okay.

Libbe HaLevy

04:44:30

Okay. I’ll wait til the noise has Alicia. I really appreciate the thoroughness of the information you shared and taking your time. Now, if people and providing your time to nuclear hot seat this morning. Now, if people want to sign up for your emails and any other announcements that come out from ICANN, where can they go and what do they need to do?

Alicia Sanders

04:44:55

Sure. I, you can just go to the ICANN website, which is I can w.org/join, and there you can sign up and we send out kind of regular updates on our activities. I sound out, send out a policy and research newsletter that you can also sign up for on our website. If you’re interested in that,

Libbe HaLevy

04:45:14

That’s it. That’s a separate signup. Yep. Okay. I don’t think I’m on that one, but I will be as soon as I get off this call. Okay. Anything else you can think of?

Alicia Sanders

04:45:26

No, it’s, it’s really been a pleasure to be here and talk about our work, and I wish you the best and all the listeners the best in these trying times,

Libbe HaLevy

04:45:35

We feel the same for you and everybody at ICANN, you’re doing really important work. You’re doing it well. And you give us hope that perhaps there will be a change hopefully sooner, rather than later, rather than too late for now. Alicia Sanders, Zachary, thank you so much for being my guest this week on nuclear hot seat.

Alicia Sanders

04:45:56

Thanks so much.

Libbe HaLevy

04:45:57

Alicia Sanders, Zachary. She is the policy and research coordinator at the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. We will have links up to the ICANN website, their email sign up, and also a sign up for policy email, and the physician’s letter that she mentioned that will all be up on the website, nuclear hot seat.com under this episode, number 4, 5 9. Note that Alicia’s reference to the gender information included in the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons came out of the work of Mary Olsen of gender and radiation.org. If you’d like to learn more about that cornerstone information and Mary’s crucial work, we have an interview with her up on our website from nuclear hot seat, number 4, 5 6 on March 17th, 2020. To give you an idea of what it’s like to actively lobby to get governmental support for the treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. I have a great sample for you to hear. As I mentioned during the interview, there was a hearing in front of the New York city council on January 30th, 2020, to convince the city to officially support the treaty. Alice Slater is a longtime anti-nuclear activist and a member of the board of the nuclear age peace foundation. She was one of those who spoke to the city council. She only had two minutes, but Alice packs a powerful punch give a listen to her testimony.

Alice Slater

04:47:29

Oh my name’s Alice Slater. I just want to thank you for this wonderful initiative and proceeding. I’m on the broader board of world beyond war and the UN rep at the, for the nuclear age peace foundation. And I’m just so grateful to the council for stepping up to the plate and taking historic action to finally be on the bomb. I was born in the Bronx and went to Queens college when tuition was only $5 a semester in the 1950s, during the terrible red scare of the McCarthy era at the height of the cold war, we had 70,000 nuclear bombs on the planet. There are now 14,000 with about 13,000 in the U S and Russia. The other seven nuclear armed countries have only a thousand among them. So it’s really up to us in Russia to move first, to negotiate for the abolition as outlined in the new treaty at this time, none of the nuclear weapons states and our U S partners in NATO, Japan, Australia, and South Korea are supporting the new treaty.

Alice Slater

04:48:39

It may really surprise you to know that Russia has generally been the eager proposer of treaties, the verified nuclear missile disarmament, and sadly it is our country in the grip of the military industrial complex, that Eisenhower warned against that provokes a nuclear arms race with Russia from the time Truman rejected Stalin’s request to put the bomb under UN control to reg and Bush, Clinton and Obama rejecting Obama and Putin proposals that is documented in, I submitted testimony to Trump walking out of the inf treaty just recently, Walter Kelly. The cartoon is to the Pogo comic strip. During the 1950s, red scare has Pogo saying we met the enemy and he is us. We now have a breakthrough opportunity for global grassroots actions in cities and states to reverse course from plummeting our earth into catastrophic nuclear disaster. At this moment, there are 2,500 nuclear tip missiles in the U S and Russia targeting all of our major cities as for New York city. As the song goes, if we can make it here, we’ll make it anywhere. And it’s wonderful and inspiring that a majority of this silly city council is willing to add its voice for a nuclear free world. Thank you so much.

Libbe HaLevy

05:50:09

That was Alice Slater of the nuclear age peace foundation, speaking truth to power on behalf of the campaign to get the New York city council to officially support the United nations treaty, to abolish nuclear weapons. Now, for one more example of the kind of work being done in conjunction with the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, here’s a brief summary of the work of don’t bank on the bomb, which at this point I consider to be a public service announcement worthy of repeating don’t bank on the bomb is a system for divesting funds from those companies that are actively involved in the design and manufacture of nuclear weapons. This brief explanation of how the campaign works is able to be voiced by Susie Snyder. She coordinates the research publication and campaigning activities for the group and is on the steering committee of ICANN. This brief explanation was recorded app Dr. Helen called the cons symposium on possible nuclear extinction on February 28th, 2015.

Dr. Helen

05:51:17

It’s amazing. It’s called don’t bank on the bomb, and that’s the website too. Don’t bank on the bomb.com. Step one, find out if your bank invests a nuclear weapon, producers, step two, contact your bank, tell them you don’t want them to step three, tell the world what the bank says, and if they don’t get rid of investments, go public because no bank wants to look like a bad guy. It takes one or two people only to make a huge difference, and that can cut off the money stream to the companies that make nuclear weapons, you and I, we have more power than we think, and that power is sitting in our wallet. And how can people find you?

Libbe HaLevy

05:51:57

Whether the companies that were told the bank is supporting have any connection with the nuclear weapon

Dr. Helen

05:52:02

As industry? Well, we do a significant investigation every year. Now it’s not completely exhaustive, but we profiled 28 companies that have association with nuclear weapons, modernization, and maintenance, and it’s on our website, don’t bank on the bomb.com. And we really want people to use our information and contact us all the time. You can do that in, you know, through the website really easily contact me on Twitter, whatever works, and I’m happy to find out more. And if you find out, learn about more companies involved in nuclear weapons, jealous, we’ll do the research and we’ll make it public for everybody to use. Love it.

Libbe HaLevy

05:52:40

I loved it when I first heard about it and I love it. Still Susie Snyder of don’t bank on the bomb. We have a longer interview with Susie about the program and its implications and the progress it has been making. It’s up on nuclear hot seat, number 4 54 from March 3rd, 2020, check it out on our website. Here’s today’s final thought. It’s hard to keep caring about nuclear in this time of Corona virus. But for those of us who are able to, we must times like these are tailor made for people who don’t have our general welfare at heart to try to get away with if not murder, certainly actions with longterm negative consequences for health people and the environment under the smoke screen of COVID-19 the nuclear regulatory commission and the entire nuclear industry are behaving despicably. And they are trying to get away with slam bang moves that will put us all at risk from radioactivity for not only the foreseeable, but the unforeseeable future, still information overload.

Libbe HaLevy

05:53:54

I get it with so much bad news out there. You might be wondering why look for any more. And my answer to that is for whatever its characteristics COVID-19 will eventually become something the human race adapts to living with, but there is no adaptation to radioactivity and it’s deadly impact upon our bodies down to our DNA radioactivity already created in the waste stream from reactors, manufacturing, facilities, uranium mines, transport, nuclear weapons, including the atmospheric bombs that have been exploded. And all the other stations of the cross, we bear from the nuclear infrastructure will be deadly to life for close to half a million years. So, yes, right now, protect yourself, protect yourself in the immediate future. As this virus ravages our life. And our very idea of normal is forever changed. But please, if you can, when you can, as much as you can, don’t take your eye off the nuclear ball. However long it takes for COVID-19 to clear or stabilize or us to adapt to it. Nuclear dangers will continue to exist and persist. And the only way that will change is with the work of me and you and all of us together.

Libbe HaLevy

05:55:30

This has been nuclear hot Tuesday, April 17th, 2020 research in nuclear press.com beyond nuclear, the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons or ICANN mining awareness.wordpress.com. asahi.com. The reporter online.com times herald.com. Pots merck.com USA today.com roll call.com New York times public news service.org. The hill.com reuters.com. My nietzsche.jp, the guardian.com S C M p.com. bellona.org. The smarmy spinmeisters at world nuclear news and their PR hacks and the nuclear regulatory commission. Thanks to Bruce Brinkmann for his help, with the Ellis Slater audio and to listeners around the world who keep me informed as to what the nuclear situation looks like from their perspective. If you wish to stay connected to nuclear hot seat, we have lots of ways for you to do so. The show is available on all major podcast channels, or the easiest way is to go to nuclear hot seat.com, scroll down to the yellow opt-in box, fill it in with your first name and your email address.

Libbe HaLevy

05:56:55

And you’ll be sent one email a week with the link to that week’s program. Along with other information about what’s included in the episode. Now, if you have a story lead, a hot tip or a suggestion of someone to interview, send an email to [email protected] We always want to hear what you have to say. And if you appreciate weekly verifiable news updates about nuclear issues around the world, take a moment to go to nuclear, hot seat.com. Look for that big red button, and please do what you can to support our work. We will be really grateful for your support, especially these days. This episode of nuclear hot seat is copyright 2020 Leiby Halevi at heart history, communications, all rights reserved, but fair use allowed as long as proper attribution is provided. So if you’re going to quote from the program or use any of the audio, please just give us the credit and mention the website. This is Libby Halevi of hardest street communications. The heart of the art of communicating, reminding you that the nuclear refueling contractor was freaked out by one simple factor. We cannot stay clean from COVID-19 at the Limerick nuclear reactor. There you go. You have just had your nuclear wake-up call. So whatever you do do not go back to sleep because we are all in the nuclear hot seat,

Announcer

05:58:26

Clear hot seat. What are those people thinking? Claire hot seat. What have those boys been breaking their hot seat? The Ms. Sinking our time to act is shrinking, but Hotsy, it’s the bomb.